Some of the best musical acts in the world have come out of the United States and Great Britain, with a few other countries adding to the music scene. After the US and UK, Australia and Canada have provided the second most popular musical artists in the world. As this is a blog about Canada, we will discuss the Canadian contribution to music.
Some of the artists listed belo are famous all over the world and recognized as being Canadian, while others are known only in Canada but deserve attention due to the quality and originality of their work. Sometimes people are surprised when they learn that a particular musician or group is Canadian and not American. Whichever category they fall under, here is a list, in no particular order, of the Canadian musicians and bands:
Alexis On Fire
From St. Catherines, Ontario, this 5-piece alternative rock band is best known for their 2005 song “No Transitory” which won them several awards and a Rolling Stone “Best New Band of the Year” listing.
People either know her or they don’t, but there’s no denying that Sarah MacLachlan’s haunting voice and ambient-style of music is unique. She was born in Nova Scotia and was adapted by a couple in Halifax but moved to British Columbia as an adult. She has sold more than 40 million records worldwide and her career includes hits such as “Into The Fire”, “Angel”, “Sweet Surrender” and “Building A Mystery”.
If you’re into 80’s hair bands then Glass Tiger is a group you should know. Famous for their songs “Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone)” and “Someday”, they stayed on Billboard’s Top 10 list for several months.
A band known only in Canada, the Headstones have a sound that is a mix of hard rock and alternative, with Canadian hits such as “Smile and Wave”, “And” and “Cubically Contained”.
This 1950’s pop icon from Ottawa, Ontario is famous for such golden oldy classics as “Diana” and “Lonely Boy”, as well as for writing the theme song for The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson.
Part of the R&B craze that hit the world in the 1990s, Deborah Cox, from Toronto, Ontario, is often cited as Canada’s top R&B singer and holds the record for staying in #1 position the longest on Billboard’s Top 10 R&B list (14 weeks) with her hit “Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here”.
From Ottawa, Ontario, Alanis Morisette earned herself three Grammies with her pop-rock tunes “One Hand In My Pocket”, “You Oughta Know” and the badly mis-titled “Ironic”.
The Barenaked Ladies
4-time Grammy award winners, 2 time MTV Video award recipients, twice as Rolling Stone’s “Band of the Year”, The Barenaked Ladies, from Ontario, are known for hits such as “If I Had $1,000,000”, “Brian Wilson”, “One Week”, “Pinch Me” as well as “Get In Line” and “Call and Answer”. Their unique mix of folk and pop rock is recognized all around the world, even if you can’t stand them.
You either love her or you hate her. Most people hate her, especially Canadians, and it is a shame that she is the first artist that comes to mind when people think of Canadian music. Besides, she doesn’t even live in Canada. She’s been calling Las Vegas home for over five years now!
Stompin’ Tom Connors
Now here’s the real deal: bluegrass twangy classic country music. Born and raised in St. John, New Brunswick, Stompin’ Tom usually writes about Canada and the Canadian character, but has ended up with some hits in the US in the 1970s. His most famous contribution to Canadian music, however, remains the second anthem of Canada: “That Good ‘Ol Hockey Game”.
Our Lady Peace
Another internationally-recognized alternative rock band from Toronto, Ontario. They have won a couple of Grammy awards and spent their fair share of time on international charts with hits such as “Superman’s Dead”, “4 am”, “Innocent” and “Angels Losing Sleep”.
This world-reknown country/pop singer is responsible for such hits as “Any Man of Mine” and “(If You’re Not In It For Love) I’m Outta Here”. She has received 4 Country Music Awards and a Grammy as well as an MTV Music Video Award. She originally hails from Windsor, Ontario but spent most of her life in Timmins, Ontario. In order to keep her image of a country star alive, she moved to Calgary, Alberta.
Rolling Stone Magazine called him the “most influential musician of our time” in 1973, and his music continues to be popular all over the world today. Born in Toronto, Ontario, Neil Young took the civil rights protest movement of the 1960s and politicized the music industry. Originally a member of the band “Buffalo Springfield”, Neil Young broke away and went solo. He has earned numerous Grammy awards for his hits “Rockin’ In the Free World”, “Old Man” and “Harvest Moon” and sold millions of albums. He was added to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The Guess Who
A classic rock band from the 1960s and 1970s, The Guess Who, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, are widely recognized for a series of hits such as “These Eyes”, “American Woman” and “Share The Land”. They’ve been on a world tour with the Rolling Stones and have played almost every venue imaginable.
From Victoria, BC, Nelly Furtado is one of Canada’s more pop famous exports, with such well-known hits as “I’m Like A Bird”, “Promiscuous Girl”, “Maneater” and “Say It Right”.
This sultry-sounding jazz musician from Nanaimo, BC, has won 3 Grammy awards and married Elvis Costello at Elton John’s estate in England.
Another international star in his day and another famous musician from British Columbia, Brian Adams went from 1980s pop-rock with his hit “Summer of ’69” to sappy 1990s adult contemporary with his Robin Hood theme “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)”
Part of the California post-punk music scene (also called pop-punk), Sum 41 formed in Ajax, Ontario and are now known around the world, although most people think they are American. With hits like “Fat Lip” and “Chuck”, they have gone double-platinum.
What is it about Quebec that keeps producing musicians I personally can’t stand? Avril Lavigne, the Grammy-award winning “artist” for her hits “S8er Boi” and “Girlfriend” is a teeny-bopper pop-punk-princess who dropped out of high school to pursue her musical career. I guess she hasn’t done too badly.
The Tragically Hip
The most Canadian of Canadian, the best of the best, and the successors in rock to The Guess Who, the Tragically Hip represent hockey, beer, prairies, forests, mountains, cottages and working people with their long career spanning 3 decades. Blues and rock with a touch of bluegrass combine in hits like “New Orleans Is Sinking”, “Ahead By A Century”, “38 Years Old”, “Courage”, “Fiddler’s Green” and “Bobcaygeon”. If you’ve never listened to them before, I highly reccomend getting acquainted with the best uncommercialized pure-rock and roll in the land.
A rock-musician from Pointe-Claire, Quebec, Sam Roberts delivers well-orchestrated sound with a powerful voice making him one of the newest Canadian music icons. His hit “Brother Down” went international but otherwise he pretty much stays Canadian.
This fiddle-playin Maritimer melded alternative-rock with traditional Celtic folk to create a completely unique sound. From Creignish, Nova Scotia, Ashley MacIsaac uses a hard-pounding electric fiddle mixed with funk beats and Celtic backgrounds in such Canadian hits as “Sleepy Maggy” and “Devil In The Kitchen”.
Rounding out this list is the pop-country band Blue Rodeo, from Toronto, Ontario. Like The Tragically Hip, they have a distinctly Canadian touch to their music but deliver a soft country style that appeals to all broken hearts and philisophical dispositions. Some of their Canadian hits include “Lost Together”, “Rain Down On Me” and “Hasn’t Hit Me Yet”.
There is the list of some of the better-known Canadian musicians. Whether they are international stars or enjoy a down-home popularity, Canadian musicians continue to be cutting-edge and deliver a unique sound to the world of music.